Man hunting from a treestand

Where to Shoot a Deer with an Arrow: Finding Your Aim

Are you new to bowhunting or want to improve your shooting accuracy? AccuBow is here to help. Knowing where to shoot a deer with an arrow is the basis of ethical hunting and the secret to being a successful archer. If you don’t know where to shoot in different situations, you’ll never hit your desired target. 

"Aim small, miss small" is a saying that's frequently used in shooting sports, and it's especially applicable to bowhunting. The more laser-like focused you are, the more likely your arrow is to land exactly where you want it to. Since deer have no pre-marked references, you need to understand the anatomy of deer to make the quickest kill. 

In this article, we'll go over the anatomy of deer and show you where to shoot a deer with a bow in practically every circumstance. Keep in mind that we are talking about where to shoot a whitetail deer – the most popular deer species, most populated deer species, and most sought after big game hunting animal in America.


The ideal hunting scenario is when a deer is facing broadside. In this situation, hunters can directly shoot a deer's heart and lungs. A shot to the deer's heart will give you the smallest margin for error and cause it to bleed out quickly, which will kill it the fastest.


Along with the broadside shot, a quartering-away shot is one of the best shots for a hunter. This is due to the fact that even if your aim is slightly off to the left or right, your arrow will probably still travel through the deer's body cavity and up into its chest. This ensures there is a good chance of hitting the heart or at least one lung, and likely passing through other vital organs such as the liver, lungs, and heart, in that order.

If you’re wondering where to aim to shoot a deer that’s quartered away, you should reference your aim for the arrow to enter in the back of the lungs. Or, in the words of Basemap, “The general rule of a quartering away shot is to aim with the opposite front leg as your backstop. This shot gets you close to that rule. The shot is still slightly high for a level shot, but the angle will do plenty of damage.”

Always check to make sure the arrow passes through the deer’s entire body and that there is a blood trail. If the arrow hits the deer in a spot that is different than you’ve intended and doesn’t provide an immediate kill, the deer can sometimes travel a long way before dying or, worse, survive with a wound. If you hit the animal but it doesn’t pass through, you may not get as good of a blood trail, making for a more difficult tracking job.


A quartering-to shot might be alluring, but there are more dangers than benefits. When a deer quarters toward a bowhunter, the near-side shoulder blade serves as a shield for the chest cavity, making it easy to stop your arrow from entering it or to place it in a part of the body where there are no vital organs.

If this is a shot you must take, aim at the front side of the near shoulder. However, we strongly advise against taking this shot for the deer’s sake as it is considered unethical and can lead to an unrecovered animal if the arrow dows not get enough penetration.

Head On

A head-on shot is not advised for bowhunters because of the amount of bone and fat in the area that will prevent the arrow from striking any vital organs. A head-on shot is much more likely to leave a deer injured than killed.

Now that you know where to shoot a deer from different angles, let’s take a look at a possible hunting situation. 

From a Treestand

Close up of buck in an open field

As a bowhunter, it’s likely you’ll be shooting from a treestand. As you move up the tree, your shots will get harder and your margin for error will get smaller. When shooting a deer with an arrow from a treestand, the objective is to have your arrow pass through the animal’s vital organs just like hunting on the ground, no matter the angle. 

For quartering away shots, utilize the same tips we’ve recommended for ground hunting, but keep in mind that your arrow is  now traveling on a downward angle instead from a treestand, so you may need to consider the arrow entering slightly higher on the animal's body, depending on how steep the downward shot angle is. 

If you're serious about improving your shooting skills, you'll need to have a good understanding of where to shoot a deer with an arrow and high-quality training equipment. No matter what version, 1.0 or 2.0, the AccuBow training bow is the best of the best and will make bowhunting easier and more enjoyable! Not only that, the AccuBow app can teach you more about animals’ vital placement, shot angles, and even give you virtual bowhunting experience from our tree stand mode

Are you ready to start hitting more targets? Shop our collection of AccuBows today!